Cyprus Mail
Entertainment What's On

Celebrating the Mediterranean way of life

It’s been a festival-full summer. We’ve had Ancient Greek Drama, AnimaFest, Fengaros, the Limassol Documentary Fest, the Afro Banana Republic, festivals of beer and wine, the operatic Pafos Aphrodite Festival and – at the start of September – the Flying Away Fest. So many, in fact, that we’re thinking of reassigning the term ‘the festive season’ to the hottest months of the year, rather than the coldest! However, as we drop into autumn and that need to collectively party under the trees/by the sea/in the mountains begins to fade, festival time is definitely winding down. Leaving us with only one more celebration; the last blast as it were, in a town known as summer party central: Ayia Napa.

Taking place every year towards the end of September, the Ayia Napa Festival draws the entire island season to a gentle close. A popular and well-anticipated event according to organisers, this is a festival which – unlike the extravaganzas of early summer – is a simple, down-to-earth celebration of the town, its surrounds and, for the most part, resident talent. With an emphasis on the arts, the quietly home-grown flavour to the majority of happenings ensures this four-day festival is an end-of-summer salute to everything local: music, dance, bands and poetry.

That said, the first evening does see an event entitled Music From All Over the World, but despite the moniker, it’s orchestras from nearby towns and villages that will be performing the pieces. And the theme continues, with local dance troupes, singing groups and traditional poets (including members of the Paralimni Cultural Society ANADYSH, the choir of the Metropolitan Church of Saint George, ANEMOESSA the Famagusta Music School, Ayia Napa’s official dance group and folk poets) taking to the stage in a celebration of the Mediterranean way of life. The theme for the evening’s entertainment is, say organisers, Exploring the past in song and dance, and it’s based on the idea that “If you search through traditional songs and art and village life you can discover the roots of language and culture and from these grow new traditions and civilisation, truth and philosophy.”

The following evening, Friday September 23, again brings the talents of the Ayia Napa municipal dance group to the fore though this time in tandem with the Rethimno municipality of Crete. “Sea, land and sky are all part of my dreams… I swim, I walk, I fly alone in my mirth” and “Cyprus has always suffered in captivity, like a fish caught in the net of tyrants” are the somewhat enigmatic phrases that encapsulate the evening’s performances. However, there is a link: the sea that joins both islands, suggest organisers, is what knits the groups and their efforts together in a piece entitled, simply, Cyprus-Crete One Sea.

Saturday’s festivities ramp up the excitement a little with a host of happenings in “a musical night full of love, prayer, and pride under the sun”, a slightly confusing statement – given that it will, of course, be pretty dark by the time events begin at 7.30pm – but one nevertheless well-intentioned. Kicking off with the Cyprus Police Orchestra in a street-side performance along with a parade of local music groups, the official opening of the festival takes place at 8pm with a welcome address from the town’s mayor. Fireworks follow at 9pm, and the entertainment ends with a concert of music from composer Stamatis Spanoudaki (performed by regional groups, including the Tamalo Orchestra, the music group Anemos, and the Aris Lemesou choir with Solonas Kladas as conductor) under the fetching title of Sunwashed.

The final day of the festival veers slightly from the local while nevertheless celebrating the traditional, with a world record attempt for the largest soutsa dance ever performed. Led by the Georgian dance group Iberia, this Guinness World Record attempt will see children and adults from the local diaspora gather to perform a dance which has its roots in Cyprus and Crete but is acknowledged as a tradition as far away as Greece and the Balkans. Featuring music from the lyre, violin, laouto and mandolin, the dance sees complex patterns performed by pairs of men and women moving in a stylised version of courtship before the event series draws to a close with an announcement of the following year’s festival and a spot of soothing music to see you away into the night… and into a pleasant, festival-free autumn!

32nd Ayia Napa Festival
September 22 to 25, with a series of events based in the town’s central square taking place each evening from approximately 7.30pm to 10pm. Entrance is free

Related Posts

Concerts bring classical music and sounds of Buenos Aires, Paris and Athens

Eleni Philippou

TV shows we Love – Succession

Antigoni Pitta

Kalopanayiotis gets into the Christmas spirit

Eleni Philippou

Visit the Palm-Tree Kiosk at upcoming exhibition

Eleni Philippou

Rihanna made national hero as Barbados becomes a republic

CM Guest Columnist

Upcoming workshop looks at the photography of objects

Eleni Philippou